Over the years, architect Ralph Erskine received several of the world’s principal distinctions and prizes for his architecture. He amalgamated the proceeds into a fund, the Ruth and Ralph Erskine Nordic Stipend Fund, administered by the Swedish Association of Architects.
The Ralph Erskine Award was established by the fund in 1988 and amounts to 10 000 USD. According to the jury instruction the Award is to be conferred upon an individual, group or organization for innovation in architecture and urban design with regard to social, ecological and aesthetic aspects. The efforts of the applicant are to have benefitted primarily the less privileged in society. Anyone around the world is welcome to submit proposals.
Previous Ralph Erskine Awards
Architects Joshua Bolchover and John Lin, operating at Hong Kong University with their research platform RUF. Through their architecture, they demonstrate new ways to create better living conditions for people in rural China that allowed them to stay there.
Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner for their dedicated work aiming at improving living and social conditions in the slum areas of the world’s megacities through social initiatives and collective endeavors in close collaboration with the local inhabitants.
Andrew Freear for his work with Rural Studio and students at Auburn University in Alabama, USA. The result of the work is a number of realized single family houses, public buildings, playgrounds, churches and parks, often built with recycled materials.
Barbara Southworth for her leadership of the Dignified Spaces Programme, Cape Town, South Africa with enthusiasm, skill and diplomacy. Her work had resulted in over 20 realized projects that could act as catalysts for further developments.
Daniel Morgan, Costa Rica, for his work with the planning and execution of the Guarari housing project in Heredia, San José.
Hans Olav Hesseberg, Eli Synnevåg and Sixten Rahlff, Norway, for their work with the children’s home of Cheebatar in Nepal.
Yosef Mangunwijaya, Indonesia, for the architectural upgrading of the neighbourhood Kali Chode in Yogyakarta.
Jo Noero, South Africa, for two educational buildings for work training in Soweto and Duduza, South Africa.
Jan-Olov Jensen and Per Christian Brynildsen, Norway, for a nursing home for lepers in Lasur, State of Maharastra, India.
Hjörleifur Stefánson, Iceland, for making a book about a selection of old vernacular buildings on Iceland.
José Forjaz, Mozambique, for professionalisation of the education of architects in Mozambique through international exchange.
Ralph Erskine 1914–2005
About the architect and his work:
Ralph Erskine was based for most of his career in Sweden where he has designed numerous office buildings and housing developments. He was best known in Great Britain for his housing scheme at Byker in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and a commercial project, the Ark in Hammersmith, London. His last major achievement was his designing the winning scheme in the 1997 competition to develop the Government’s first Millennium Community at Greenwich, London. It brought his work to the attention of many.
As a young architect, Ralph was committed to the new ideas of architecture and planning. He became interested in the political development of Scandinavia and set off for Sweden, despite the looming war with Nazi Germany, with a bicycle, rucksack and sleeping bag. Also, he was attracted to Sweden partly by the work of Asplund, Markelius and Lewerentz. Sweden was building a prototype for the welfare state with architecture to match. The Stockholm exhibition of 1930 had confirmed Sweden’s position at the time as a country that was building extensively using a modern architecture. As an immigrant in Sweden he saw the impact of the arctic climate and its challenge for the built environment. Early in his career, this insight became a distinguishing feature in his architectural expression, in urban planning and in detailing.
Ralph Erskine has had an immense influence on the Scandinavian architectural debate. He has been faithful to his belief in the development of a good and equal society and he has, without compromises, pledged and fought for the need for social and political awareness in the built environment.
Ralph was a true humanist. His buildings radiate optimism, appropriateness and wit, which endear them to many. His philosophy of work accommodated the climate and the context together with the social and humanistic needs of people. He was concerned that the expression of buildings should engage the general public interest, generate a sense of ownership and appeal to genuine participation.